I heard this song at the end of an episode of Chapo Trap House earlier this year and found a link over on the Chapo subreddit. This hits all the right notes for me, blending memories of my favorite 90’s pop acts, notably Teenage Fanclub and Matthew Sweet.
Heard Sub Pop’s LVL UP on All Songs Considered as I drove to Cincinnati last night. Not only are the perfect for the person who’s still obsessed with Neutral Milk Hotel, but this song, “Hidden Driver,” is about a website co-founded by one of my very talented grad school classmates, Astra Taylor! I’m excited to hear LVL UP’s Return to Love at the end of next month.
Have I really not written anything about Dinosaur Jr. since this post? Seems so, apart from a passing reference in 2011 to J Mascis’ excellent Several Shades of Why back in 2011. It’s crazy, because when I really think about it, Dinosaur Jr. may be that band that somehow survives every critical hangup I ought to have about them.
I mean, I found things wrong with my favorites that makes it hard to understand how I ever loved them so much in the first place. R.E.M., neatly summed up in a 2-part podcast over at Shallow Rewards, is one example. Pavement, Spoon and Sonic Youth? Love them barely ever listen to them these days. Even bands I fell in love with as an adult, like Fiery Furnaces, Liars and TV on the Radio feel dated.
Somehow, I don’t feel the same way about Dinosaur Jr. Maybe it’s the unmistakable crunchy riffing or the timelessness of J Mascis’ voice, but there’s something deeply satisfying about them. I find myself returning to these records and Mascis’ recent solo work more often than I realize.
As summer fades and fall draws near, I know I’ll be spending more time with their latest record, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, like a favorite sweater.
Just when I thought I couldn’t love Low any more, they go ahead and play a 30 minute version of “Do You Know How to Waltz?” It’s a polarizing piece of music, but I’m going to join a legion of drone fans and request it when they play Philadelphia Saturday night at World Cafe.
I can’t believe I once haggled with Eleanor over the price of a Fiery Furnaces t-shirt in the front of the Khyber…and that she accepted $10 instead of $15. Even harder to believe it was that long ago that the Fiery Furnaces were critical darlings, playing packed rooms and mesmerizing fans with Matt’s musicianship and Eleanor’s swagger.
It’s great to see Eleanor break out and make really lovely pop records that should appeal to a broader audience than probably hears them. There’s no standout track to these ears after a few listens, but I’m o.k. with that. I still enjoy putting a record on on Sunday morning, sipping coffee, flipping through the Home section on my Flipboard. Personal Record is perfect for that.
I know Matt Friedberger would hate to have his music described as something that doesn’t demand more from the listener, but there’s something to be said for music that doesn’t bounce around like a child throwing a tantrum. His solo stuff was never that challenging in the way he believed it to be. And the manner in which he drove fans away from the Fiery Furnaces tarnished the band’s legacy irrevocably.
Personal Record finds Eleanor Friedberger coming into her own after her equally lush and lovely Last Summer.
Youth Lagoon’s Wondrous Bughouse is a haunted circus of a record. It rivals Clinic’s Free Reign II for dark psychedelic masterpiece of the year.
It took a while, but with Free Reign II, Clinic have rediscovered the spooky, sleepy psychedelia that made Internal Wrangler and Walking With Thee so dark and magical.